People For Human Rights Council

WOMEN RIGHTS – PHRC

PROTECTION OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN RIGHTS IN INDIA

Children and childhood across the world, have broadly been construed in terms of a ‘golden age’ that is synonymous with innocence, freedom, joy, play, and the like. It is the time when spared the rigours of adult life, one hardly shoulders any kind of responsibility or obligations. But, then, it is also true those children are vulnerable, especially when very young. The fact that children are Vulnerable, they need to be cared for and protected from ‘the harshness of the world outside’ and around. This being so, the adult-child relation, parents in particular, is said to provide ‘care and protection’ – serving thereby the ‘best interests of the child’ and meeting their day-to-day ‘needs of survival and development’.

The adult is presumed to be the guardian and in that respect expected to take the responsibility of child’s welfare and Development. Whether or not, the premise underlying this is correct or not,the childhood ‘reality’ on the whole is questionable, demanding critical evaluation. Accordingly, idealistic notions and representations associated with children and childhood have been challenged, especially in relation to poverty,disease, exploitation and abuse rife across the globe. Many also believe that childhood is that period during which children are subject to a set of rules and regulations unique to them, and one that does not apply to members of othersocial categories.

It is indeed a period in a person’s life during which she/he is neither expected nor allowed to fully participate in various domains of social life. It is thus not a world of freedom and opportunity but one of confinement and limitation in which children are ‘whollysubservient and dependent’. This being so, childhood is nothing short of a world of isolation, sadness,Exploitation, oppression, cruelty and abuse.To dichotomize and juxtapose these theoretical models of the child-adult relation reveals fundamentally different ways of seeing and understanding the very essence of childhood and children. In this sense, childhood is not a static, objective and universal fact of human nature, but a social construction which is both culturally and historically determined. The history of Hebrews, Greeks and Romans, whose cultures had a great impact upon the Western society, bears testimony to the fact that children, by and large, were taken for granted by their parents and the patriarchal society at large.

The resultant effect of all this was that they were treated as objects of intervention rather than as legal subjects in their own right. Many labeled them as a ‘problem population’ whereas others reduced them to being seen as property and thustreated them .

Since the League of Nations held its meetings in Geneva, this 1924 Declaration of the Rights of the Child came to be known as the “Declaration of Geneva”.

Recognizing that ‘mankind owes to the child the best that it has to give’, the five simple principles of the Declaration established the basis of child rights in

Terms of both protection of the weak and vulnerable and promotion of the child’s development. The Declaration also made it clear that the care and protection of children was no longer the exclusive responsibility of families.

United Nation Declaration of the Rights of the Children

  • Non-discrimination.
  • Special protection, opportunities and facilities to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.
  • The right to a name and nationality.
  • The right to social security, adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services.
  • The differently-able child to be given special treatment, education and care.
  • The need for love and understanding so that the child grows in the care and responsibility of his/her parents, and in an atmosphere of affection and moral and material security.
  • Entitlement to education, which should be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages.
  • The child should be among the first to receive protection and relief in all circumstances.
  • Protection against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation, including that associated with employment.
  • Protection from practices that may foster racial, religious and other forms of discrimination. 24 Under the chairmanship of Dr. D.S. Kothari to find out possible solutions. The recommendations of the Kothari Commission led to the formulation of the National Education Policy in 1968 which in a way gave fillip to the efforts being made in the education sector. A Committee on Child Care was also constituted whose recommendations gave way to a comprehensive Scheme of Family and Child Welfare in 1967 thereby providing integrated services to pre-school children in villages and basic training to women in craft, health education, nutrition and child care. The Fourth Five-Year Plan (1969-74) focused on development of a package of basic minimum services for children. It also drew attention to the problems of neglected and destitute children and introduced a Scheme for Children in Need for Care and Protection. In 1974, the National Policy for Children was adopted. The Policy Resolution recognized children as the nation’s supremely important asset and declared that it is the responsibility of the State to nurture them. It further emphasized that it shall be the duty of the State to “provide adequate services to children, both before and after birth and through the period of growth, to ensure their full physical, mental and social development.” And that the “State shall progressively increase the scope of such services so that within a reasonable time, all children in the country enjoy optimum conditions for their balanced growth.” To achieve these objectives, it called for the adoption of following measures – comprehensive health programmed; provision of nutritional services, nutrition and nutrition education to expectant and nursing mothers; free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14 years; provision of non-formal education, promotion of physical education and other types of recreational as well as cultural and scientific activities in schools and community centers; provision of special assistance to children belonging to the weaker sections of society; upliftment of children in distress; protection against neglect, cruelty and exploitation of children; protection against child labour; provision of special facilities for children ailing from various kinds of disabilities and encouragement and assistance to gifted children especially those belonging to the weaker sections of the society. In achieving the above, the Policy gave special recognition to the role of voluntary organizations.

SITUATION OF CHILDREN IN INDIA

The preceding chapter exemplifies the manner in which independence facilitated the overall process of acquiring equality, dignity and protection for the children of the country. Other than the constitutional provisions, India adopted a NationalPolicy for Children in 1974, declaring children to be nation’s most precious asset. Hence, from the Fourth Five-Year Plan onwards, perhaps a little earlier than that, children have certainly found mention in national development plans, but insufficient attention in terms of investment. In the wake of the 1990 World Summit for Children, the Government of India adopted a National Plan of Action for Children in 1992, with goals for the decade. In the year 1992 itself, it also ratified the CRC and thereafter in its Periodic Country Reports submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has dwelled at length about the measures taken for ensuring children’s rights. These Reports and the India Report on the World Summit for Children undoubtedly record some positive changes in the situation of children in India. But, there are significant problems and performance gaps too.

The intent of this chapter is to focus on the critical areas which call for immediate attention of all concerned. From 548 million persons in 1971, the population of India crossed the billion mark officially on 11 May 2000. The 2001 Census gives the total population for the country as 1,028.7 million persons. This population is expected to reach 1,264 million in 2016 which means that approximately 236 million persons are likely to be added to India’s population in the current and ensuing decades. Such a massive increase in numbers will, to a large extent, offset the gains of Economic development and require massive inputs for social services, civic amenities and infrastructure development.

The population of States constituting the Indian Union varies considerably in size. Uttar Pradesh, the biggest State has retained its position with a population of 166 million in 2001 even after a Separate State (Uttaranchal) was carved out of it in 2000. Some 18 States (Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Orissa, Kerala, Assam, Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Jammu & Kashmir), as per Census 2001, had a population of more than 10 million, while two States (Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal) had a population of more that 5 million but less than 10 million. All this indicates how critically important it is to improve the child development profile in these States if the national aggregate of child development indicators is to show a significant improvement. Currently, several States are lagging behind on social as well as economic development indicators. Given their current political and administrative situation, the position is unlikely to change much in the near future in most of these States. The children of these States will, therefore,

Continue to be more vulnerable than those in most other parts of the country, especially those living in rural areas and urban slums (Bose, 2003:21-24). This situation needs to be looked into and tackled in a very concerted manner.

CHILDRFEN SEX RATIO IN INDIA

The child sex ratio is calculated as number of girls per 1,000 boys in the 0-6 year’s age group. In India, the 2001 Census reported a child sex ratio of 927girls per 1,000 boys that is definitely adverse to girls. The 1991 Census had reported child sex ratio of 945 girls per 1,000 boys, which signifies that a decade later; the child sex ratio has worsened further by 18 points. Prior to the 1991 Census, this ratio had fallen from 976 in 1961, to 964 in 1971, and 962 in 1981. A stage may soon come when it would become extremely difficult, if not impossible, to make up for the missing girls. The declining child sex rat has already started showing its ramifications in States like Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh. In states like Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat, this ratio has declined to less than 800 girls per 1,000 boys. The Government needs to recognize this discrimination.

Girls have a right to live just as boys do. Moreover, missing numbers of either sex, and the resulting imbalance, is bound to destroy the social and humanfabric. Flarge extent, offset the gains of Economic development and require massive inputs for social services, civic amenities and infrastructure development. The population of States constituting the Indian Union varies considerably in size. Uttar Pradesh, the biggest State has retained its position with a population of 166 million in 2001 even after a Separate State (Uttaranchal) was carved out of it in 2000. Some 18 States (Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Orissa, Kerala, Assam, Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Jammu & Kashmir), as per Census 2001, had a population of more than 10 million, while two States (Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal) had a population of more that 5 million but less than 10 million.

All this indicates how critically important it is to improve the child development profile in these States if the national aggregate of child development indicators is to show a significant improvement. Currently, several States are lagging behind on social as well as economic development indicators. Given their current political and administrative situation, the position is unlikely to change much in the near future in most of these States. The children of these States will, therefore, Continue to be more vulnerable than those in most other parts of the country, especially those living in rural areas and urban slums (Bose, 2003:21-24). This situation needs to be looked into and tackled in a very concerted manner.

EFFECT OF POVERITY ON CHILDREN IN INDIA

Poverty exercises an adverse influence on the health and nutrition status of children. Inadequate and irregular earnings affect the quantity and quality of Food that a family can consume throughout the year, its standard of living, and access and use of healthcare. The extent of poverty varies considerably between States. Data from the Planning Commission with regard to the number and percentage of population below poverty line in States shows that in 1999-2000, among the bigger States, Orissa had the largest percentage of population below the poverty line (47.15), followed by Bihar (42.60). In numbers, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar together had 96 million persons below the poverty line or 37 per cent of the country’s poor. Bihar (undivided) also had 38 districts, the largest number in the list of 100 most backward and poorest districts in the 45country identified in 1997, followed by Madhya Pradesh (undivided) with 19 districts and Uttar Pradesh (undivided) with 17 (Bose, 2003:36-36).Removal of poverty is one of the central concerns of Indian planners and its reduction a key indicator of success in implementation of policies and programmers, including those relating to children. On the whole, though therehas been a decline in the number of persons living below the poverty line, yet this is an area which requires utmost attention of the Government. A family Living below the poverty line is bound to impact on the survival and development of the child.

Who will be treated as a child?

As mentioned earlier, the Constitution of India and the laws enacted over the years have some unique and far-reaching provisions to protect children. Yet,

There are laws in which the age of the child is not in consonance with the CRC, which the Government ratified way back in 1992. Besides, the age of the child has been defined differently in different laws. These different age-specifics under different laws not only create a dilemma, but also set the stage for injustice.

This is because, whether the same human being is or is not a child depends upon the law that is being invoked in a given case. Moreover, when the laws are in conflict with one another due to diverse definitions, it is but natural a difficult task to decide the ‘best interests of the child’. The 86th Amendment to the Constitution, on the Fundamental Right to Education for the 6 to 14 years age group, has also led to the inclusion of an additional clause under article 51A that imposes a fundamental duty upon parents or Guardians to provide opportunities for education of their children/wards between the ages of 6 and 14 years. The amendment has provoked agitation and criticism from all sections across the country. Their contention is that the State is abdicating its responsibility for the provision of free and compulsory Quality education that must be accessible and appropriate, both socially as well as physically. In effect, it is penalizing the poor parents twice – for being poor and for their inability to send their children to schools, the causes for which may be beyond their control. Lack of quality, appropriate and accessible education 46 is one of the major reasons for children dropping-out of school. The other reasons, of course, are poverty and to some extent the need for elder children to look after their younger siblings. In the absence of a well drawn out plan to ameliorate poverty and lack of alternative childcare facilities for children who have been deliberately kept out in the amendment, the Government needs to rethink and reconsider its stand.

Child Marriage in India

There is legal recognition of the fact that children must not be married before they are physically and mentally ready for it. The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 (CMRA) prescribes a minimum age of 21 years for males and 18 years for females. As the title of the Act suggests, it is merely a law to prevent the Solemnization of child marriages, but does not address the situation of a child who has been married off before the law could prevent it. It does little to protect children who have been married off, sometimes even before they can stand on their feet. Efforts to amend the CMRA have been going on for almost Four years, yet there is no consensus on the issues on which amendments are required. It can be normally seen Uttar Pradesh where child marriage is still in custom .The people of U.P. does not cares about the law because there is so many loose holes in the Child Marriage Act as only a person who is in blood relation can file complaint against the child marriage and there is no any powerful remedy if the child marriage performed against the law.

Child Labour in India

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act was enacted in 1986, to specifically address the situation of child labour. However, this law is inadequate both in its understanding and the framework that it provides for dealing with the problem of child labour. By distinguishing between hazardous and nonhazardous forms of labour, and identifying certain processes and occupations from which children are prohibited from working, it leaves out a large range of activities that children are engaged in and thus continue to be exploited and abused. The large-scale exploitation and abuse of children employed in domestic work and hotels are cases in point. On August 1, 2006, the Ministry of Labour added the following occupations to the list of hazardous occupations: domestic servants, workers in dhabas, restaurants, hotels, motels, tea shops, resorts, spas or other recreational centers.

OFFENCES AGAINST THE CHILDREN

The Government has adopted a policy of affirmative action towards addressing issues of socially backward groups, such as the Scheduled Castes/Tribes and the Other Backward Classes as well as the girl child. Despite these, discrimination–overt and covert – occurs in various forms. The guiding principles underpinning the Constitution of India are equality before law, equal protection to all and non-discrimination. There is affinity between the standards set by the Constitution and the standards set by Article 2 of the CRC. Equality is a dynamic concept with many aspects and dimensions and therefore cannot be confined within traditional limits. Articles 14, 15, 17, 25-28, 29 and 30 of the Constitution aims to secure social and economic justice to all as well as remove all kinds of Biases. Yet, children born in the categories of Scheduled Castes/Tribes and Backward Classes including religious minorities start life with severe handicaps.

 

Considering that these children account for a clear majority of India’s child population, it is necessary to look deeply into their problems from all angles rather than paying a lip-sympathy to them.

India adopted a National Policy for Children in 1974, declaring children to be the nation’s most precious asset. From 1974 till date, there has been a gradual shift in approach towards its children from a needs-based to a rights based approach. However, India has yet to translate this change into actual programming, which remains largely ‘welfare’ oriented. The fact that India is signatory to a plethora of international/regional instruments concerning children, this needs to be reflected in its National Policy for Children too. And, this could be carried out only if the 1974 National Policy for Children is revised.

It has also been found that so far as children are concerned, they have been devoid of holistic child-centered planning that requires inter-departmental and inter-ministerial coordination. As a consequence of this, policies and actions concerning them have not brought out the desired result. The Ministry of Women and Child Development is the Nodal Ministry responsible for all matters concerning children. With the objective of strengthening central level coordination, a National Coordinating Mechanism (NCM) was constituted way back in January 2000 through an executive order issued by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. However, the task of this NCM is perhaps restricted to monitoring the implementation of the CRC only. It is not known whether the NCM is still in operation after it met for the first time in September 2000.

Correspondingly, it is important to undertake an examination of all those policies which at the outset may seem distantly remote but overall have an impact on the status of children. For example, the agricultural policy or for that matter the forest policy or the environmental policies. There is thus need to objectively gauge the impact of such policies on children. There is ample evidence that there is increase in malnutrition level among children due to change over from food crops to cash crops as a result of the agriculture policies or the loss of access to traditional sources of food and nutrients and livelihood of adults due to the loss of access to forests because of the forest policy. Right to health is a basic human right that cascades from the right to life. The Constitution of India under Article 21 makes right to life a Fundamental Right.

Health being a key factor in a nation’s growth and development, it has been a subject of national attention, public debate and Government intervention for several decades. A number of national programmers have been launched in the past to control and eradicate the major diseases. While there has been success in some areas, in general, public health services have been characterized by poor performance. The burden of disease has fallen disproportionately heavily on the poor, the worst affected being children. Frequent episodes have not only caused pain and suffering to children, but also affected their growth and development and influenced performance in school. Here, it is important to remember that child survival is not synonymous with child health, and that morbidity data are also very important. Unfortunately, the collection of morbidity data is not done systematically, particularly community based data. Also, due to the absence of standardization in the presentation of data, making a comparison of findings of different studies over time or across regions is often rendered difficult. The most widely used indicator of child survival is infant mortality rate (IMR), which measures the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births during the year. In India, as per the latest Census, the IMR is still very high. Infant deaths(deaths below age of one year) are indicative of wastage of human life. They also reflect the state of maternal and child health services, access to them, and extent of utilization. A target of less than 60 Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in 2000 was set by the National Health Policy 1983. This was not achieved. The rural-urban difference in IMR is also very marked. In 2000, urban India had an IMR of 43, but in rural areas it was 74. The survival scenario is thus far more fragile in rural India where three-fourths of the population lives. Our hopes are now pinned on the revised National Health Policy of 2002. Inter-State variations in IMR are also very marked. Female IMR is also higher than the male IMR. Higher IMR among females is due to social causes related to other practices which are morbid manifestations of gender bias and female feticide and female infanticide. The poor health and nutrition status of pregnant woman is a major contributory factor to infant mortality. Maternal malnutrition continues to be another area of concern. The health care services in the country are to be blamed for not functioning satisfactorily.

The population segments worst affected are the rural and urban poor who suffer the most when the public health care system malfunctions. All this in an indirect manner impacts on the maternal health services as their reach is limited. We know that proper medical attention at delivery is a critical factor for safe motherhood and child survival. The Universal Immunization Programmes that limped initially has now gathered some momentum and is one of the biggest preventive public child health programmes in the world. However, much still remains to be done. Similarly, the Government has visualized an elaborate primary health infrastructure in rural areas for providing preventive, promotive and curative services. However, the functioning of the primary health infrastructure has drawn flak, and its deficiencies brought out, in the evaluations by the Indian Council of Medical Research and other bodies. The poor delivery system which includes inadequate supplies, poor equipment, poor services, and malpractices have been mainly responsible for slippages in national health targets. The CSSM programme has not made a visible impact on reduction in infant mortality either.

The newly conceived RCH programme seeks to ensure child survival, safe motherhood, and reproductive health care through up gradation of services at different levels. Its impact will, however, depend upon the extent to which the health care infrastructure would bring about an improved performance. Malnutrition has been another major public health problem in the country. It has somehow escaped public visibility despite its harmful potential. In India, about half the children less than three years of age were found by the National Family Health Survey 1998-9 to be undernourished. The worst affected are the children of the rural and urban poor. Today, the prevalence of severe under-nourishment has declined, but this should not lead to any complacency. Malnutrition is often categorized as only a medical problem, but it is the outcome of several factors – socio-cultural as well as economic factors, and has important behavioral dimensions and, therefore needs to be tackled cautiously through coordinated inter-sectoral intervention strategies that are properly executed.

EFFECT OF EDUCATION FOR THE BETTERMENT OF CHILDREN

The ability to read and write is an essential element of human capability. Experiences of countries across the world have time and again shown the overall role played by education in national development and in individual and social well-being. It is the first step towards acquiring other tools of learning. Not only this, it equips people to make informed choices, empowers them to resist oppression and enables them to claim their rights. Its usefulness thus has led planners to give high priority to education as it is considered to be ‘an investment in human capital’. This apart, in the measurement of development, literacy and level of education are invariably listed among the key indicators. Female education, in particular, is recognized as a means to a better quality of life for the child and the family, as well as woman’s own quest for self-fulfillment. A higher level of education of a woman considerably enhances the child’s chances of survival and of entry and continuance in schooling.

Elementary education is considered crucial because it lays the foundation for secondary and higher education and training, which is critically important in today’s fast-changing technology propelled growth. We have seen above the steps taken by the Government in making right to education a fundamental right. However, if the educational scenario in the country were to be critically reviewed, it would be seen that though there has been some progress towards universalization of elementary education since independence, but for the attainment of this goal completely, there is still a Long road ahead. Official enrolment figures show a massive increase in numbers at primary as well as middle stages in the case of both boys and girls. But, not all children who figure in the enrolment statistics attend school. A positive development, on the whole, has been the consistently higher rate of decadal growth rate of 51 enrolments of girls, both at the primary and middle stages. The gender gap in enrolment also seems to be declining. As of now, the school drop-out rate continues to be very high. The main causes of drop-out are school related, and factors concerning family and home. Of late, there seems to be some improvement in the physical infrastructure of schools. But, by and large, they are still deficient, particularly in rural areas where poor construction and bad maintenance has often caused fast deterioration of the available structures. Needless to mention, in majority of the schools there is still shortage of space.

This leads to several classes being held in the same room by dividing the space or having a class out in the open. The former certainly is not a learner-friendly situation. Drinking water and toilet facilities, particularly for girls, are still poor. Teaching aids and methods used in schools are still far from satisfactory. Primary schools suffer not only from poor physical infrastructure, but also because they do not have enough teachers. Assessments are not done on a continuing basis. Teacher motivation is low. There is hardly any supervision of teaching. Several malpractices have cropped up. Many villages in rural areas have a negative opinion about the commitment of school teachers and feel that their children do not get a fair deal due to the indifference of teachers, absenteeism, and poor functioning of schools. In addition, there has, unfortunately, come into existence a big caste and class divide coupled with a rural-urban divide in education, in terms of facilities and quality, which has serious social consequences and could lead to social upheaval. Schools in backward rural and tribal areas are the most neglected, and the standard of teaching deplorable.

Even in other areas, schools to which children of the underprivileged have access are run by the State or local authorities. By and large, these have a poor record of performance. The low quality of education in schools meant for the masses adversely affects their employment prospects in the long run. Children from the middle and upper classes attend private schools, which charge exorbitant fees that are not affordable by the poor, but which are far better in terms of providing quality education. It is thus the children of the poor who need most a good public sector school as their families cannot muster financial support for private schools, compensatory teaching, and coaching, and have, further, the disadvantage of little or no academic support at home due to the generally low levels of education of their family members. Though theoretically the State seeks to provide equal opportunities through heavily subsidized education, its poor quality adversely affects the life chances of the socially and economically disadvantaged sections of the society and is likely to further accentuate the divide between the haves and the have-nots. Access and quality are, therefore, issues which need to be seriously addressed by the Government along with other stakeholders.

CHALLENGING CIRCUMTANCES FOR CHILDREN IN INDIA

In our country today, there are a large number of children who are living in especially difficult circumstances and require attention of all stakeholders. Unfortunately, not much is known either of the nature of the problems faced by these children or of the numbers involved. It was only as an aftermath of the 1990 World Summit for Children and the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children to which India is a signatory, the Government of India through its National Plan of Action, for the first time, not only made a direct reference about this group of children but simultaneously devoted an exclusive section on them. This apart, for the first time again, the section tried to spell out and bring together at one place all the different categories of children in especially difficult circumstances, such as the physically handicapped, mentally handicapped, those affected by drugs, victims of natural and manmade disasters, refugee children, street children, slum and migrant children, orphans, destitutes and beggars, children suffering from HIV/AIDS, children of parents with HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS orphans, trafficked children, children of prostitutes and children forced into prostitution, children in conflict with law and children whose labour is being exploited, so that improved protection could be provided to them and the root cause which has lead them to such situations could be deciphered (NPA, 1992: 25).

There are other categories of vulnerable children too, like children affected by terrorism, insurgency and riots which could be added to this long list. Girl children, children who have been victims of sexual abuse are another category that needs attention. The number of such categories of children is increasing day by day, but because of their dispersed character, they have escaped the attention of policy makers. Response to their needs has been ad-hoc and largely in the form of relief. It is important that such categories of children are identified, their problems studied and programmes developed whereby these children could be rescued and rehabilitated. We also need to bring about improvement in the standards of service in most State run institutions and those run by voluntary organizations. The best way to reach these children would be through non-institutional forms of care. Legal measures to protect these children are also necessitated.

Female Foeticide and Infanticide

Faced with the widely prevalent misuse of sex determination tests to commit female foeticide, the Commission approached the Medical Council of India during the year 1995-96, to take a position on the ethical aspects of such tests. After reviewing the matter, the Council decided to suggest suitable amendments to 59 the regulations governing the code of medical ethics, in order to enable Undertaking of disciplinary proceedings against errant doctors. Thereafter, the issue of ‘discrimination’ as a cause of human rights violations was examined in great detail in the Commission’s Annual Report for 1999-2000, especially in relation to gender and caste-based discrimination.

In the light of recommendations made by the CRC Committee in its concluding observations with regard to the report on children submitted by the Government of India, the Commission reiterated that there was an urgent need to ensure that free and compulsory education was provided as a fundamental right to all children until they completed the age of 14 years. It also emphasized the need for undertaking a vigorous and comprehensive national campaign against female foeticide and infanticide. During the course of regional and national consultations on Public Health and Human Rights that were held during 2002-03, the Commission again took up the issue of combating female foeticide and infanticide. The issue featured again when the Commission organized a Colloquium on Population Policy – Development and Human Rights in January 2003. To counter this problem, the Commission has maintained that vigorous and comprehensive measures be taken by all States and Union Territories to put an end to the gruesome problem of female feticide and infanticide.

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